Now is Good.

Just because life hands you lemons doesn't mean you have to suck.

Sidetracked. June 24, 2011

Filed under: Change,divorce,Marriage,Motherhood,New start — nowisgoodblog @ 7:48 am

Whoo, BOY, did I get sidetracked yesterday.  I’m packing (and packing and packing and packing).  I’m trying to be smart about it, cleaning out and culling as I go, boxing things in groups that will be used immediately/used eventually/used never but saved for posterity.

So what the hell do I do with all of The Ex’s old love letters?

Quite awhile ago, a reader emailed and asked me that very question.  At the time, I thought it would make a great post topic, but I seriously back-burnered it.  It was not at all a pressing issue–those notes and letters and mementos stayed where they had always stayed, in a box in my bedside table drawer.  I felt no need to acknowledge them and no need to purge them.  They were there, in a box and out of the way.

But now they are IN the way.  As is the wedding photo album.  As are the wedding videos.  As is my preserved wedding dress.  As is the framed hand-drawn ink sketch of the hale in Hawaii where we spent our honeymoon.  As are the Valentine’s cards and the periodic professions of undying love and devotion and the couple-y photographs that I removed from frames and shoved deep inside other drawers when The Ex moved out.

I feel I should save these things—at least some of them.  As a teenager, I loved rooting through my mom’s keepsakes and finding those glimpses into who my parents used to me.  I suspect Avery and Amelia (and possibly even Owen) will be the same.  I want them to be able to see us as we were, when we loved, before it all got so royally screwed up.  I want them to know why they were wanted, what we planned, and that we really had the best of intentions when we brought them into this world.

Avery told me the other night that when she looks at photographs of our wedding, she thinks Daddy has a really weird look in his eye—like he doesn’t want to be there, like he doesn’t mean it.  She is wrong, but I understand why she feels that way.  Her view of us in those photos is colored by her sense of the way our relationship is today.  She sees us now and can’t understand how it was then.  She projects backwards in time and rewrites a history that existed years before she was even born.  Some day I’d like her to understand that we loved.  Very much.  For a really long time, we had a really good relationship and then a really good marriage.  It turned into a really bad one at the end, but I don’t think I want her to believe that the end invalidates the beginning (to be fair, I’m not sure what I think of that, but I don’t want her to be as jaded as her mama).

It’s a double-edged sword and I’m not sure which blade is worse for a young girl looking ahead toward love and marriage and life.  Is it better to believe it never existed, so that she can think her own love, when it comes, is strong and true and different than all those who have failed before her?  Or is it better to know that it once existed, true and strong and real, but that it completely disappeared anyway, seemingly overnight?

I want to save these memories for our children, but I think I may want to save some of them for me, too.  Because if I don’t, I’m not sure I’ll  be able to remember that girl, or why she loved that boy, or just how spectacularly good it was, long ago before it became so, so bad.

I want to save them, but I don’t need them right now.  So there’s my marriage up there in that photo—all crammed into two boxes that will be stored on the highest shelf in the least-used closet.  Contained within are the results of the adult years of my life so far … the memories, the love, the promises and the proof that there was a WE once.  It’s all there, in those two boxes.  And of course, here in this:


13 Responses to “Sidetracked.”

  1. Caroline Says:

    I’ll store the boxes at my house so you don’t have to :)

  2. Mindy Says:

    The kids will love that you saved this stuff. I used to love going thru my parents’ albums and things. They were happy in those pictures. But, there was more for me: who else was there, what was everyone wearing, where did I fit into this, etc. You save it for your kids not just you.

    I just discovered our wedding album in a box in the garage. I was surprised as I thought it was in the house. I ended up leaving it in the box. If the kids ask, I’ll show it to them. If not, it doesn’t matter. They’re surrounded by so many other pictures of all of us that it’s enough of a story for them. For now.

  3. Craig Says:

    Shoot. I had a couple of iffy memory boxes and Ike made the decision about what to do with’em. Mere, you are fairly well spectacular and you should keep it all. Its your history. That alone makes it important enough to keep.

  4. Debra Says:

    I decided long ago that I would keep photos and other mementos of my life with my ex for my kid’s sake. It’s part of their story and how they came to be. So, these items sit in a closet awaiting new ownership when my girls become adults. I, like you, also kept my wedding dress, but when I moved into my new house last year, I stuck it in the garage. I am sure the bugs and other critters (yes, I have critters) have managed to make a home of it, thereby rendering it unwearable by my girls..not that I would want them to wear it, or even fashion a new dress out of it, due to the outcome of their mom’s marriage. That dress may be cursed! :)

  5. I understand the dilemma. For me, I question whether any part of the “love we had” was true or did she just settle for me as she told me when she left.
    Some people think she is changing her interpretation of the past to reconcile what she has done now.
    This is all painful for me as I will never know the answer. It’s painful for our 20yr old daughter as she questions he mom’s integrity.
    My 7 yr old son told me the other day “Dad it’s ok if you still love mom more than all the grains of sand in the ocean because you are not totally divorced yet…so you should still love her”

    So..keep or throw away all the physical evidence??

    I’m keeping, but they are currently locked in hard to get to places. Some of the more painful things are the pregnancy photos of her that her partner in adultery took of us. What I do with them I don’t know. Beautiful shot of my wife carrying my son, but always a reminder of who the photographer was and what transpired later.

    You have my empathy and the wish that I could give you the perfect answer.

  6. My parents’ wedding album has always been a brown paper bag full of snapshots of a September day in the Seventies. It lives at the bottom of a large Avon box along with hundreds of other printed memories from the past several decades. I like knowing they’re there, even if nobody looks at them on a regular basis.

    I’m sure your girls will cherish those photos someday. Owen too. And the dress… Can you tranform it into pretty pillows for Avery? Doll blankets for Amelia? Like you and the ex, it can evolve to serve your family in a slightly different manner.

  7. theresa Says:

    Please don’t toss it, Meredith. It is part of yours and your children’s history. Please take up your sweet sister’s offer to store it, but don’t get rid of it. Like it or not, it is a part of who you are. xoxo

  8. Lady E Says:

    Mmm, I know the feeling…And agree with you and others about the value of keeping these things for your children. I would add that whatever happened or was said afterwards, your wedding day, and all your happy memories were true and sincere, as was the love you once had for each other. And this is the most precious thing for you children. Good luck with the rest of the packing! x

  9. kimberly Says:

    i kept the photos for the kids but could not stomach the “love” letters/momentos… they really were spurts of what could have been-nothing more. everyone needs to do what they feel is best in this situation for them and their family. glad you’re getting it figured out :)

  10. soulsista Says:

    Thanks Meredith for responding to my query with your lovely post. However, the jury is still out for me on what I will do. Your kiddos are young and would probably love/benefit from seeing those pics on how your family came to be. My guys are grown, have seen them and not sure what they would do with them going forward. Heck, I am a history fiend and hate to destroy a written record. But the letters, affirmations of undying love etc. ring so hollow. For now I think maybe I keep them and write my own didactic. The occasional written word was so contrary to his actions. I do believe everything in life is an opportunity for learning and maybe this is as well. Twenty five years of birthday, mother’s day, anniversary cards with albeit loving sentiments does not a healthy, happy, relationship make. Bottom line, actions always speak louder than words. Wish I had owned that much earlier.

  11. […] Now is Good – Sidetracked – just a beautiful post about what to do with all your wedding memorabilia after divorce and yes, I do think it’s different when you have children from that marriage. My wedding […]

  12. Whatever you decide, your writing describing your thoughts and feelings around it is amazing.

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